Local News

Saturday, Nov 23 2013 07:00 PM

Baristas in bikinis get chilly reception from BCHS

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Bottom's Up Espresso will open soon at the corner of Stockdale Highway and Allen Road.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Bakersfield Christian student Ellie Hein, 16, left, gives her views on Bottom's Up Espresso, which is opening up near the high school. Sister Marguax Hein, 14, is at right.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

Call it a half double decaffeinated half-caf with a twist -- the twist being that a new drive-through coffee kiosk planned across the street from Bakersfield Christian High School has residents and educators alarmed because of what baristas will wear, not what they'll serve.

Coffee and energy drinks are on the menu, but at the latest location of Bottom's Up Espresso, employees will wear what they do at its three existing branches, two in Modesto and one in Tracy.

They'll wear bikinis, and to boot, serve at least a half-dozen drinks with names that can't be printed in this newspaper.

PG-13 examples include the Sweet Senorita, a "White Coffee Creation" that includes brown sugar and cinnamon; the Dirty Little Irish Girl, which features Irish cream; and Modesto's current favorite, the Blonde Porn Star, which has caramel and toasted marshmallow.

Baristas also serve fruit-infused energy drinks and pre-prepared muffins, pastries and bagels.

That's all while wearing bikinis, a fact the company's website, its Facebook and Instagram pages online, and area manager Amber McCulley make abundantly clear.

"Yeah, all of our baristas do wear bikinis, but the thing about it is, every day is a different theme. We have school girl day, we have French maid day. Right now, because of the season coming up in December, we're going to have Santa day," said McCulley, who manages all four Bottom's Up locations.

"I honestly don't see any problem with it. It's not a sexual thing. I don't think that they would have a problem going to the beach and seeing women in their bikinis."

Bakersfield is not a beach town and Bottom's Up's outpost, opening next year at the southwest corner of Allen Road and Stockdale Highway, is right across Allen from BCHS and, a little farther east, The Bridge Bible Church.

Church officials declined to comment.

School officials learned about the coffee shop last week, and while they haven't taken an official position, said they're deeply disappointed by its arrival.

"It's pretty obvious to everyone that it would be a conflict to have a business of this type in close proximity to any school," said Karen Dierks, BCHS vice president of institutional advancement. "You can't protect students from the world. What you want to do is get them to think critically about everything in our world. They have to be able to make good decisions when they're not on our campus."

BCHS President Stephen Dinger said he was surprised the chain's owner, Nathan Wilson of Stanislaus County, would have chosen this Bakersfield location, given its proximity to a church and high school.

"We'll wait and see if it's a reality," said Dinger, adding that he believes area residents will be neither titillated nor amused by baristas in bikinis. "In terms of the population they're drawing from, I would think that there would be other constituencies or socioeconomic groups that would be more attracted to that enterprise."

Through his area manager, McCulley, Wilson declined to comment.

BCHS parents and students were dismayed when informed that Bottom's Up had hung out its vinyl banner on the vacant former home of Caffeine Supreme.

"I'm not happy at all. I send my kids to a Christian school," said mom Kathryn Hein as she picked up daughters Ellie Hein, 16, a junior, and Margaux Hein, 14, a freshman.

"I go here and I think that's a bad idea. I don't think I'm going to be buying coffee there," said Ellie Hein, who thinks Bottom's Up would be setting a bad example to students whose dress code forbids bikinis, tankinis and tank tops. "Isn't it, like, demoralizing to people who work there?"

But the coffeehouse's dress code -- or bikini code -- and work environment is probably conservative enough to avoid running afoul of Bakersfield's municipal code for adult entertainment businesses, City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said.

Bakersfield Municipal Code section 5.06.010H says live adult entertainment can mean "any physical human body activity" including even walking, speaking or posing, in which "performers expose to public view without opaque covering the genitals ... ."

"As long as the body parts that are identified in 'adult live entertainment' are covered, it does not meet at least that first component of adult entertainment," Gennaro said. "If those body parts are covered, then I do not get past that."

Bakersfield Police Chief Greg Williamson said he didn't think wearing bikinis would be considered indecency, but his department would investigate any complaints.

Health officials in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, where Bottom's Up's first three stores are located, joined Kern County Department of Public Health's Food Program Supervisor Diana Wilson in agreeing that the state retail food code section that applies to coffeehouses doesn't say much about what food servers -- including baristas -- must wear.

"They talk about personal cleanliness, fingernails, jewelry, hair being in restraints, any outer clothing should be clean, and use of gloves," said Diana Wilson, no relation to Nathan Wilson. "Whatever they're wearing needs to be clean. It doesn't specify a uniform or anything else."

Like Dinger, the school president, Ward 4 Councilman Bob Smith pointed out that to date, coffeehouse owners have secured none of their necessary business or health permits, and that an opening date may be a ways off.

"In my mind, it doesn't fit in with the neighborhood or the community values, the family-centeredness of the neighborhood," said Smith, a former member of the BCHS board, adding, "I don't think the city can do anything about it. I prefer to get my coffee from fully clothed people and I would hope everyone else would, too."

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